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Former BMW CEO takes on university position

Molly Hulsey //February 1, 2022

Former BMW CEO takes on university position

Molly Hulsey //February 1, 2022

Flor retired from BMW Manufacturing last year after serving as CEO for five years. (Photo/Provided)A few months after retiring as BMW Manufacturing’s CEO and president, Knudt Flor has been appointed by College of Charleston’s President Andrew T. Hsu as the school’s senior vice president of innovation and industry engagement.

Flor also will serve as a distinguished professor of practice while advising the president, provost and chief advancement officer in his new role starting today, according to an announcement from the college. In the new position, he will spend the next year working as a school liaison to form partnerships with businesses across the state.

“I am so pleased to have Knudt Flor join the College of Charleston leadership team in this very important role engaging strategic partners,” Hsu said in the news release. “Not only does Knudt bring with him his incredible leadership experience at one of the top companies in the world, he also has a unique understanding of global citizenship and the need for today’s students to be fluent in cultural diversity.”

Flor rose through the ranks at BMW over a 30-year career to become president and CEO of Plant Spartanburg. He served in that position from 2016 until his retirement last year.

He has held a variety of posts with the automotive company in Germany, South Africa, China and the United States, ranging from working as a launch engineer for engine production to project manager for quality management system integration to director of international supply chain and overseas logistics.

In his role at the college, Flor will help guide faculty and staff as they continue to innovate curriculum and consider new academic programs that appeal to both employers and prospective students, the release said. He will also consult the college on its development of engineering programs and expanding internship opportunities for students both in the United States and abroad.

“In his own career, he has found success in four very different places and four very distinct cultures: Germany, South Africa, China and the United States,” Hsu said in the release. “I have joked with him that his fifth destination — higher education — will be very different and perhaps even more challenging! However, I know Knudt will be a great champion for our institution’s modern take on a liberal arts education.”

Flor said he looks forward to bolstering talent development and bringing manufacturing back to the United States on “the highest and most competitive technology level.” He believes industry should play a much earlier role in the higher education journey and provide financial support for students, faculty and equipment.

He will focus in on ways the school can assist industry in smart factory with digital twin planning in the virtual world, autonomous mobile robots, machine learning, data analytics for patter recognition and augmented reality problem solving, among other topics, Flor said in the release.

“I have been in industry for more than 30 years, and I’ve seen and lived through the big transformation on the shop floor — from human as ‘operator’ to human as ‘architect and enabler of equipment,’” Fluor said in the release. “And, I learned, ‘Business is People.’ I see the need to change and enhance the engineering functions to be ready for the future. The combination of liberal arts training and advanced engineering can help in shaping and developing the type of engineers we need now and tomorrow. In my experience, automation and lean production gave us a big jump in productivity, quality and competitiveness since 1990, and now digitalization and connectivity will have the same big impact — and it will be a radical change again.”



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